Spas and doctor’s offices are approaching so close to mid-ground these days that, at times, the edges blur and it’s difficult for the average Joe to see clearly through the laser smoke. But wait… is it a medical or non-medical haze?
Skin rejuvenation, youthful appearance, reduction of fine lines, body sculpturing and so on are promised in both types of practices. And the methods of lasers, IPL, peels, micro dermabrasions and, extra strength skincare products, sound just as similar. This month The Yum List takes a step across the line, from spa over to aesthetic clinic, in search of some clarity.
M.A.C. Clinic, in Bangsar Shopping Centre, is one of the pioneers in Malaysia offering non-invasive and minimally invasive aesthetic procedures. Owner, Dr. Hew Yin Keat, not only sports a resume of international qualifications, but also was the first, and continues to be one of the most experienced, Botox Trainers in Malaysia. Founder of the Malaysian Society of Aesthetic Medicine, he is a sought after presenter and leader in the industry. Dr. Hew was kind enough to help me understand some of the treatments offered in spas and medical clinics and what differentiates the two.
|Dr. Hew Yin Keat|
Despite appearances beginning to liken – spas with new machinery and, clinics with softer, more welcoming décor – the number one difference between the two is that aesthetic centres are registered with the Malaysian Medical Council ensuring the highest standards in “medical ethics, education and practice.” All treatments in a clinic should be evidence based, proven in research reviews published in recognized medical journals. Although individuals react slightly differently to various treatments, in general the end results should be well defined. Along similar lines is that the strength of machines and products allowed in a clinic are much stronger (and consequently provide more distinguishable results) than those permitted in a non-registered setting.
Value for Money?
Now what about value for money? Medical clinics must charge more for their treatments right? I did a quick search on the websites of a couple of spas popular with expats around the city. These are not high-end hotel style spas, nor are they inexpensive Thai massage salons either. They’re pretty much mid-range commercial establishments with trained therapists and clean, agreeable environments.
Microdermabrasions in the spas varied between RM300 and RM380. Light and Heat therapies started at RM530 and went up from there. Packages were available, generally offering pay five, get one free. Microdermabrasion in M.A.C. Clinic costs RM180. A microdermabrasion combined with a medical strength laser treatment costs RM380. I checked out another highly reputed medical clinic and found their microdermabrasion priced at RM250. I soon stopped searching for laser treatment prices, as there are so many different types under various brand names that accurate comparison was not possible. So, based solely on this quick inspection, it would appear that it’s not necessarily the case that doctor led practices are more expensive.
Now that’s not to say that spas don’t have their distinct benefits. If the goals are relaxation, pampering, a general feel good experience and, a place to pass a blissful few hours, spas win hands down. However, if the goal is measurable results, then it seems that a medical based clinic is the way to go.
M.A.C. Clinic provides an extensive menu of clinically proven treatments. With a philosophy of “your satisfaction, our success,” their service aims to analyse client’s needs, listen to desired outcomes and then advise on the most suitable route to achieving goals.
The same goes for dermal fillers. Only the most reputed and best researched products are used and, according to Dr. Hew the refinement of the products change at an exponential rate, with better ones on the market every year. Latisse Eyelash, Fine Thread Contour and Intraceuticals Oxygen treatments are other items I see on the menu, and I note that I recognize these names as they’ve been linked with Hollywood superstars.
A range of laser and energy based devices such as Clear + Brilliant, cCO2 Fractional Laser, CUTERA excel and Healite II are listed, as well as various chemical peels, healthy aging management and body contouring therapies. Liposonix and Coolsculpting are both machines that promise a dress size, in one hour, in one treatment. That’s certainly a mind-boggling list of new terms for me so I’m certainly going to need some guidance.
Unlike a spa, you don’t just sign up for a facial. My visit begins with a comprehensive consultation with Dr. Hew. He’s warm and friendly, clear and accurate in his descriptions and, seems to truly listen to my desires. After clarifying my personal goals he shares with me a range of treatments, their process, downtime, pain levels and expected results. What I find extremely valuable are the ‘before and after’ photos he shows me of his very own patients, himself included (!) (not some photo from a pamphlet or Internet) for specific treatments. For the slightly more invasive options, where a few days downtime is needed, I also see the recovery period shots. Knowing in advance precisely what each involves, expectations and, the ease of having all of my questions answered, makes my selection straightforward.
Dr. Hew recognizes that as a Westerner, I’m not really as concerned with freckles as many of my local girlfriends are. My apprehensions are all aged based – wrinkles, sagging skin, dull complexion, dark under eye circles – so we discuss possible solutions targeting my specific desires. As I’m traveling to Bali shortly, I opt to try some things with no downtime.
For me Dr. Hew recommends a combination of treatments to generally improve my complexion and also target my dark under eye circles. First my face is cleansed by the extremely experienced and confident hands of Irene, a long serving member of the M.A.C. Clinic team. What a true gem. She is obviously highly skilled and the first impression, even though it’s a simple cleansing, is one of confidence, knowing I’m in the hands of an expert.
Iontophoresis makes uses of electrical current to infuse Vitamin C directly into the skin’s cells. A high potency Vitamin C serum is applied to the face while I hold a metal rod helping (I suppose) my body to conduct electricity. I feel a gentle sting. This procedure is commonly used to firm and lighten pigmented skin. I notice a subtle tightening of my skin’s surface after the treatment. A mint cooling mask is applied directly afterwards and I’m left to rest for 20 minutes as it does its work.
Duo Yellow Laser
Lastly a Dual Yellow laser treatment is administered by Dr. Hew. This is a targeted treatment assigned to address the dark circles under my eyes. Dr. Hew calmly talks me through the procedure, outlining what is happening in the moment, noting what I might be experiencing (such as, “You’ll see some yellow lights. That’s normal and not harmful to the eyes.”), and constantly checks in on my comfort levels. I feel a warm sensation and see bright yellow blotches during the process. My left side experiences a light pain, nothing horrible, just a soft disturbance much, like a tiny pin prick. Results are immediate and I can already see some of the surface blood vessels have disappeared.
Unlike a general medical clinic, there are no Dettol smells, bleeding patients or an ambience of sickness. The atmosphere is distinctively cheery and positive. People visit M.A.C. Clinic to feel good and their expectations are met, so that while the treatments are medical, the environment is distinctly upbeat, making the convergence on spa borders a rather favourable one.
Reasons to visit: pleasant ambience; extensive range of non-invasive treatments; extremely well reputed doctor; discrete location.
S117A, 2nd Floor (discretely positioned off to a quiet side near Lacquer Couture and a number of beauty salons)
Bangsar Shopping Centre
285, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar
59000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
+6 03 2093 6136
Microdermabrasion + Q Switch Laser RM380
Iontophoresis Vitamin C RM280
Dual Yellow Laser RM600 – RM1000 depending on specific treatment
All treatments that require repeat sessions are available as packages.